Monday, May 9, 2011

(Mothers) Book Readings for the Naive & Fearless (Mothers)

(Mothers) Book Readings for the Naive and Fearless (Mothers)

Since May 8th is/was Mother’s Day, some of you might be expecting a blog entry that ties into “mothers”. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I could think of nothing I felt I could say on the subject.

The closest I came to a subject was, “The Character of ‘Mother’ & Her Role in YA Lit”.

Sounds like a Ph.D. thesis title, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything much to write on the subject. The only interesting mother in YA lit who came to mind was the multitalented and charming chemist/mom in Madeleine l”Engle’s books (A Wrinkle in Time; A Wind Through the Door, etc) She can simultaneously give her kids advice, run an experiment and cook beef stew (in a beaker) in her garage lab for pete’s sake! And never once does she put hydrochloric acid in dinner either. Now she is one supermom!

Perhaps some of you can suggest other literary moms who are as great or quirky as she is--or else a few moms who are, uh, at the other end of the spectrum. Like all those stepmothers who are invariably nasty. I invite you to tell us about memorable mom characters in the Comments!


In the meantime, I’m brazenly changing the subject to:

"Book Readings for the Naive and Fearless"

I participated in a book reading at a local public library back on Saturday the 16th of April. The WRWG reading went off perfectly. In spite of heavy rain, our room was about four fifths full. Some of the people in the audience were people we didn't even know. (!) The only negative in my opinion was that afterwards when we left New Castle, the group in my car tried to drive into the Delaware River.

The reading was mutually sponsored by the New Castle Public Library, by the Delaware Council for the Arts, and by WRWG, i.e. The Written Remains Writers Guild. I've been a member of the latter since 2003. Back in the day (mid-1990's through about 2007), Written Remains was strictly a genre writers critique and mutual support group. Members tended to write mystery, speculative fiction, suspense, etc. I’m the only one who focuses on YA fantasy. Our director, Joanne Reinbold’s long term goal is to transform us into what I guess is partially a professional authors’ PR/marketing consortium. We still read and critique each others’ works. Recently we’ve begun offering membership to literary fic authors.

Justin Tyme (Joanne’s son) set up everything tech for the reading, Carol Maurer was at the book table and Ramona deFelice Long introduced us all. I read first (from “Earthbow” vol.1). Then Greg Smith read, then Weldon Burge, then Kristy Nicholls and finally Joanne. Everyone brought great pieces and everyone read -wonderfully-! My friends, Brandon and Michelle made it to the reading but, alas, a bit late. Pictures were taken. No, you do not get to see them. I was in the middle of a computer crash at home and had to rush to get ready for the reading. I was not at my best, appearance-wise. I had a chance to talk to all sorts of people once the readings were over. All-in-all, I came away with the illusion that I was a professional author.

Several readers sold copies of their books, or magazine issues in which their stories appeared. I sold one copy each of "Seabird", "Earthbow vol.1" and "Earthbow vol.2". All to a lady who is going to hate them. (I trust my “vibes” in these things. ;-P ) She came up afterwards, had me sign the books, and remarked that I had stopped reading at a point that left her wondering what happened next. (Grin. Gee. I hadn't noticed!) I hope she gives the books away to someone who will enjoy them—perhaps a niece or son.

Speaking of which, I have yet to participate in a reading where young adults were present! This isn’t so bad for my fantasy books—which are on the cusp of YA and adult. Still I would love to read to a room full of age appropriate kids.

This was the most "successful" reading in which I've ever participated. WRWG had a similar public reading a couple of years ago, held in the Greenbank Mill Museum meeting room. The audience was much smaller and consisted of virtually no one besides friends & family. The DE Council for the Arts was not involved back then. I sold nothing at that reading nor did others. AND I messed up my second reading—which I had not rehearsed.

I've also been involved in readings hosted by Broad Universe --women writers of speculative fiction-- held at several regional SF/Fantasy cons. In most these, we "Broads" outnumbered our “audience” of friends. In November 2010, the PhilCon conference committee inadvertently locked us out of our meeting room for our reading. We called the con-comm office, waited for a key, gave up, and sat in the hallway outside our room to read. Very close to the elevators, with people dodging us as they came out of the doors. In my experience, when it comes to BU readings at cons, lack of promotion and organization by the local con committees tends to ruin any chances for a good turn-out.

Right after my first book, "Seabird" was published, I tried to get a reading gig at my local Borders. I thought it was a sure thing, because I’m a local author and because a former member of Written Remains worked there. They weren't interested. The same thing happened with the local indie store, where I used to buy most of my books. Their answer? “No room” Those are all my personal experiences with public readings.

The only WRWG member who has ever had huge success with public readings is Greg Smith (adult suspense/murder, “Final Price”). He has managed to get gigs at a variety of bookstores and libraries in the area. Don’t ask me how. And please don’t ask how many books he’s sold. You really don’t want to know.

I bring all of this up for a reason. I'm curious about the experiences of YAAYNHO authors—and of course anyone reading this blog entry. How many of you have participated in public readings? How did you land them? Where were they? Did you read mostly to an age-appropriate audience or to adults?

Did the reading go well, re audience numbers, sales on the spot, or sales bumps directly afterwards? Do you think this is a viable promotional tool for YA adults or just for certain other subsets of authors? Why?


Back to Mothers

Now if you really would like to read a blog entry & comments that have to do with Mother’s Day and real mothers, may I suggest the following very thoughtful entry:

MuseItUp Publishing (blog name)

“Harder Than I Thought” by Terri Main (entry/author)

One thing! Please leave a comment here first, before you go there. And, of course, you’ve long since bookmarked our page. Right?


  1. You raise a good question about mothers in fiction, and to be honest, I think most of my favorite books are missing a mother! Chances are, they're missing both parents. How weird! I'll have to think about this.
    Regarding readings, I've never really had a good one. Probably because my name isn't J.K. Rowling, lol. I don't know that the YA types go to readings. Do they? I'll be curious to see what everyone else says about this.

  2. Interesting post. I've never had a reading, good or bad. Our area book stores are very limited. A Books-a-Million, never interested in even a signing for me, and Hastings, very nice. The libraries are much friendlier.